Thoughts On The 2012 Class

It is pretty easy to figure out which of the Cowboys signees have a chance to have the earliest impact. You can immediately throw in the two mid-term junior college transfers. Calvin Barnett was a second-team NJCAA All-American defensive tackle at Navarro and a good hand at defensive tackle will always play quickly.

Barnett is in tip-top shape weighing 285 compared to the 320-plus he weighed coming out of Tulsa Washington High School. Barnett has experience and maturity and he should be a quick fit into the defensive tackle rotation at the three technique.

Blake Jackson was mentioned in the same sentence with Brandon Pettigrew by Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy during his press conference. That should tell you all you need to know there.

Jackson was a first-team NJCAA All-American tight end at Scottsdale C.C. He is 6-4, 235 and runs a legit 4.6. That is tremendous speed at that size and he has good ball skills. Jackson learns the offense this spring and he could take off next fall no matter who the quarterback is. You see, when the quarterback is not a sideline to sideline and down the field vertical thrower and more of a controlled passer in target areas, the tight end becomes an even greater factor. He can become a medium throwing quarterback's best friend.

Two defensive ends will need to step up and be ready to play. It is tough to pick two out of the foursome of Trace Clark, Eric Davis, Victor Irokansi and Emmanuel Ogbah. They are all about the same in physical maturity.

Competitively the guys in Texas may have the edge, but Clark is very smart and very mature mentally and has been around a lot of football. The thing I like about Davis is he moved inside to help his team and gained an new perspective playing defensive tackle. He will move back out now and the experience should help him. Irokansi is a big-play guy that has a lot of athleticism. Ogbah is a consistent and proven performer. I know you want me to quit being politically correct and pick two. I will go with Clark and Davis, but it could just as easily be Irokansi and Ogbah and it could be all four get playing time.

Look for C.J. Curry and Caleb Muncrief to get a chance to play on offense right away. Muncrief gives the offense a player out in space out of the backfield that can make the big play. That will be his job. As Cowboys running back coach Jemal Singleton told me, "He's different than what we have there." Different is good and can get you on the field for some plays. Curry is physically mature enough and very explosive and that is why I can see him surfacing for some reps at wide receiver.

Finally, as Mike Gundy said they didn't bring in quarterback Wes Lunt early to just throw passes this spring. Lunt is there to compete and push the envelope with current quarterbacks Clint Chelf and J.W. Walsh. Lunt has the arm to keep the offense in the same form it is in. He has played in high school in a similar system. He will benefit from the strength and conditioning and the nutritional programs. This spring Gundy and Todd Monken will find out just how close he is to being ready to help out.

Should You Worry?

Somebody asked the question about the Cowboys finish. They were wondering why at the wire several highly regarded prospects such as Trae Elston, Jaydon Mickens and Chance Allen ended up on some other school's signing list.

In the case of all three of those prospects Oklahoma State was in on them late or in the case of Allen came back on him after not recruiting him much since last spring. One Cowboy coach told me, "Remember recruiting is about relationships and two weeks is not a real strong relationship, not when some schools have been recruiting players for longer. In the case of two of those guys you can also plug in the geography factor. Allen is from Texas, but Mickens is from California and Elston from Alabama.

Allen doesn't fit that in that he signed with Oregon, but had his good friend and another OSU and Texas A&M de-commit Bralon Addison next to him heading to Oregon. Mickens signed with Washington, who had been recruiting him from the beginning, and Elston with his leader through the process in Mississippi.

The tendency for a fan is to think how can those guys pass up OSU? What don't they like about Stillwater, great facilities, 12-1 and third in the nation, Big 12 Champions and Fiesta Bowl Champions? I have said this before, this past season and all those accomplishments, which were breakthrough in proportion even compared to 11-2 the season before, will end up having a greater influence with the next two classes of recruits.

Fast is Fast

This may be one of the fastest recruiting classes in recent years. Wagoner's Kevin Peterson and Madill's Caleb Muncrief were one-two last May in the 100 meters final at the Class 4A State Meet in Tulsa. Peterson won it with a 10.86 clocking and Muncrief was second with a time of 11 seconds flat. Late wide receiver addition Austin Hays of San Antonio Reagan is a track athlete that has clocked an 11.0 seconds in the 100 meters. Jhajuan Seales is a track athlete as well and the wide receiver from Port Arthur Memorial can run a sub 4.5. Brandon Sheperd out of Parkway Central is also really fast. Blake Webb of The Woodlands is another burner, so this class could put together a pretty good 4X100 meter relay team.

My Rating

Some of you may think that Gundy and his staff could recruit 20 plus stiffs and I would say, "Look at the great new class of Cowboys!" You're wrong.

I have rated the last five or six classes of recruits for Gundy and company high. I bragged on them a bunch and over the last four years, those recruits that drew some top 25 mention by the services and a class with the likes of Justin Blackmon, Lane Taylor, Cooper Bassett, Nigel Nicholas, and Kye Staley was ranked 41st by Scout, worse by Rivals have contributed to 41 wins in the last four seasons and 23 wins the last two. Shame on all of you for saying I didn't know what I was talking about.

That said, this class is not as spectacular as some of the previous but if certain players develop and turn out as good as I think they could be then it will be a class that continues to help the Cowboys win.

Wes Lunt is a key as he brings the strong passing arm and ability to maximize the speed and the offense that Oklahoma State is used to. It doesn't have to be immediate, but Lunt is a key factor. Isn't the quarterback always a key factor?

The four defensive ends need to solidify that position starting almost immediately from a depth standpoint and from a leadership and production standpoint for the next 4-5 years.

There is another good, solid group of Joe Wickline offensive line pupils in here. In fact, this is maybe the biggest group from a size standpoint for Coach Wick. Brantley is 6-7, Wilson is 6-6, and Grisbhy is 6-5.

I love Tshimanga and Ramacher as athletes on either side of the ball. Finally, Curry has a chance to be a really big-time wide receiver. Remember, a good class produces 60 percent solid or more than solid contributors. That means of the 23 signed, 24 if Jacobs signs tonight, and by the way he would jump out to as the head of the class, you need 13 or 14 players to really get it done. I see those numbers and maybe more out of this group.

The last two players in the class offered are speedy athletes in running back Caleb Muncrief and wide receiver Austin Hays. I will predict right now that one of those two will end up being one of those very solid contributors and if both make that kind of mark then the rankings may really be skewed.

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